Thursday, October 20, 2016

Online Media in India: News websites change journalism scene, score over newspapers, TV channels

The second media revolution has arrived in India.

News websites have emerged as flag-bearers of independent journalism.

This was needed as traditional media was facing criticism for its failure.

Leading newspapers and TV channels were failing in objectivity.

It was being rued that the fourth pillar of democracy was crumbling as journalists were no longer questioning those in the power. Media was accused of toeing 'government line'.

With TRP becoming the sole criterion for news channels, the situation had become even more critical. In the era when 'mainstream media' was losing credibility, the websites have emerged.

These websites are now giving space to hard journalism. There are articles questioning the official position and reports that present the other side of the picture too.


Not just stories that don't get reported in 'mainstream media', the News websites are carrying special reports, giving space to dissenting voices and opinion pieces--the kind of articles that are not published in leading newspapers or issues not discussed in TV studios.

While terms like 'Presstitutes' were coined, 'credibility became the biggest casualty' in Indian journalism. Journalists had to chose either of the two sides--Manmohan or Modi. Even after the election, there was no change in the situation.

Just when it had become the fashion to say that 'long reports' were out of fashion, narrative style of journalism made a return. Thanks to these websites. One or two may be agenda-driven but they do provide space to alternative opinions too.


Scroll [] was among the first such websites and it has been quite successful. Senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan's The Wire [] is known for serious, issue-based journalism.

Catch is associated with the Patrika group and it has expanded in a big way.

Similarly, Seema Mustafa's The Citizen [] comes with insightful reports, especially, with regard to conflict-prone regions.

NewsBits [] brings reports from Central India--Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states, with special concern for marginalised communities, Dalits, tribals and other under-privileged sections.

Thenewsminute [] gives special coverage to Southern India--states that are not given proper attention in 'North-based media'. is well-established and reports about the marginalised.

There are other websites too. Existing newspapers and magazines like Outlook and Caravan also have high quality content on their websites. With social media proliferating, the reach of the content has also increased.

Clearly, the 'New Media' is the winner.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Targeting Media: J-K government bans Kashmir reader, newspaper forced to stop publication

It's bad news for media. A newspaper has been forced to stop publication in the world's biggest democracy.

The management of the Kashmir Reader was asked to stop printing.

The administration issued an order, which forced the paper to shutdown its operations.

Worse, media is largely silent. Journalists across the country haven't stood in solidarity with the newspaper.

The newspaper has been banned. The decision has been unprecedented. But it has not lead to any outrage. There have been voices condemning the 'arbitrary decision' and demands have been raised to withdraw the ban.

However, most big media houses avoided to cover the story. The closure of a newspaper is not something that can be ignored. It's an emergency situation. The order came when situation in Kashmir had improved relatively.

Quint carried this piece, 'Is Ban on ‘Kashmir Reader’ Daily An Instance of State Repression?'. It quotes the editor Hilal Mir, who says, "The order is vague. It does not mention any article or content that they have found objectionable".

"If there is misrepresentation, specify it, take legal recourse instead of arbitrary methods", he further says. Media watchdog The Hoot has also carried a report, 'A quiet day at Kashmir Reader'. Unfortunately, other media houses ignored the news.

For them, it was not big news, perhaps. And herein lies the tragedy of our times.

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